My brother want's my to help him set up a site for his adventure race team. I set him up a MoveableType site in two minutes as I was instant messengering him, but he didn't like it. He want's something simple, where he and his teammates do not have to use a special admin interface, but can just add posts from the top page. I'm sure I could fix something up with a text box and login function, but I wonder if there is already a plug in that does this. Anybody know?
I dont want the bookmarklet, although I suppose I can hard code it directly into the tempate. I want a textarea, subject field, and login field together on the top page so they can enter stuff and rebuild, and after rebuilding, have the top page come up again, all in the original window.
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There was an interesting topic on NPR's Talk of the Nation Monday abouty a book called The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why. It was about the findings of some Professor of psychology and Co-Director of the Culture and Cognition program at the University of Michigan.
I think it is supposed to be common knowledge that "Japanese think in a circle and American's think in a line". The example always given is of how when an American writes a paper, the "correct" format is to list points leading up to, or supporting a point. When a Japanese person writes a paper, it goes something like
Did you look at the flower on the tree? I saw a bird eating a cherry. Australia is south of Japan. It is hard for me to understand some Canadians when they talk. I like birds. Some birds like flowers. Australia has strange animals. Some birds in Australia like flowers. Different species of birds have different methods of communicating.
If you didn't understand what the main point of that was, you are a westerner. Try this one.
When analyzing bird "speech" and communication methods, one can see patterns develop that correspond the climate and local flora of the species. A large concentration of birds using method A can be found throughout northern Michigan and Canada. The numbers of species that fit this specific speech pattern dwindles the further south we look. Interestingly this change corresponds very closely with the number of Cherry trees in the region. In Australia, home of unique flora, as well as birds, speech and communication patterns are found that have no match anywhere else in the world.
(disclaimer: I don't know anything about bird speech habits. I made it all up.)
Back when I used to be a little more diligent in studying Japanese, I would buy Japanese books of essays to try to get a feel from the "real" language. Looking back though, I realize that I have finished by far more Japanese translations of English books than books originally written in Japanese. Now I see that it was simply because the Japanese essays were either too hard to follow (and not only because of the language) or else I lost interest because I couldn't see the point fast enough to satisfy me.
Anyway, getting back to the point, this guy (Richard Nisbett) at UM put this common truth to the scientific test. He found some pretty interesting things. For instance, (forgive me if I can't quote the numbers and some of my references may be a tad bit inaccurate) when shown a photograph of a stream with some fish in it, and later asked to describe details of what they saw, the Asian viewers where overwhelmingly described details surrounding the fish, such as the color and placement of pebbles, and plants. Westerners zeroed in immediately on the fish, and considered it the main point, and everything else disposable.
In another test, mothers were asked to play with their small children with certain toys. The western women, as they held the toy truck in front of the baby's face, said things like "Look at the truck. Look at the truck. See the colorful wheels?" While the Asian women focused their children's eyes onto their own face, and said things like "Do you like the vroom vroom. I give you the vroom vroom. You give mommy the vroom vroom." The point was that the American's focused in on a specific point, while the Asians focused on more abstract concepts such as sharing and communication, while placing little emphases on "the point". He found that Western infants learn nouns more rapidly than verbs, and the opposite is true in Asia.
One thing I get way too frustrated with at work, is that during a discussion, we have to drag things out of the Japanese co-workers or we won't get any feedback. The good professor says that Americans are able to talk while they think, and talking thorough our ideas helps us to formulate them, because we are very narrowly focused on the problem at hand. Asians however, are looking at things in a much broader view, taking in everything around the issue as well, this takes more concentration and therefore talking actually inhibits the ability to do that.
I can accept this. Everyone thinks differently. I know. There is no one right way. But what I want to know, is how in the heck do companies with all broad thinking Asians stay in business. I try hard to adapt to what I am told is the "Japanese way" of doing things at work, such as meetings where no one makes an attempt to get to the point until an hour into it, and waiting until everyone has accepted the fact that a certain thing needs to be done before trying to work out a course of action. In the end though, as I look at my watch after an hour of talking around the issue, and look at the calendar and see all he deadlines that just crept an hour closer, I snap and I decide everything in 2 minutes, because in the end, we have to make money. I know that some of the work would get done if I left it alone, but I also know it wouldn't be enough to pay all these deep-thinkers' salaries.
So, my dilemma, as always, is how to use these tidbits of knowledge to improve the way things work in the office. How can I use this to help the company, without doubling my own workload as the odd-ball American "doer"? Every time I do things the "wrong" way, by taking charge, I feel less stress about the project, because I can see it is on track and moving forward, but I feel more stress about my own personal development as a "culturally diverse" manager. After all, one of the obvious strengths that I should have from working so closely with Japanese in a Japanese company is that I know how to work with them. Thing is... I feel like I haven't got a clue.
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Tomoe and I often discuss this and similar topics. Until recently she has been a student and most of her frustration was not about a lack of direct participation in business meetings, but rather at her University. Before going to get her masters, she had images discussions and stimulating dialog between the teacher and students. She had images of some of the classes she took at back at UM. During her under grad years in Japan she was often frustrated by a lack of speaking up and participation on her classmates part, so I don't really know why she expected it in grad-school (especially sine Tokyo University is actually seems to have a bad reputation for producing "free thinkers") here, but once again it was a major source of stress for her, and she often regretted her decision to do it.
Now, she is in an American multinational here in Japan, I get to enjoy talking more about work related topics. One thing in particular seemed like a cool coincidence.
Just a few days ago, I had downloaded a project management software which I discovered needed a lot of customization to fit our needs. As I was working on the database, one of the field names "project_owner" struck me, and I felt the need to change it. It seemed wrong to me, and a very American idea because no one in our office wants to "own" a project. I don't know if they are afraid of the responsibility, or if it is a this "group" thing we hear so much about in Japan, but ownership just doesn't happen.
The very next day, Tomoe was telling me about how much her (American) company stresses "ownership" of a project. She works for the "home office", but she spends every day in the office of a Japanese subsidiary. She was remarking how the ownership concept just didn't seem to be working as great as it sounds. I'm so glad to hear that it is not just me and my company.
No matter how glad I am though, it doesn't really help me much when I feel the urge to take on all that responsibility just floating around in our office, because just hate to think of what will happen when it gets sucked out he window and lost forever. I have been getting better at finding my limit and not taking on more than I can handle and still be able to leave at a reasonably decent hour.
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Finally, before I forget for too long, because I have no social graces, Thanks to the people who sent their condolences about Guri keeling over Friday. I got a couple emails, and those two comments. I'm a tough guy. I'll make it. As soon as I have time to take a regular lunch hour, I'm going to start browsing the pet shops.